There are lots of reasons why horse people have blankets in their tack rooms. A blanket is a little like a horse's coat. It can keep him warm in cold weather and helps him stay dry during a rainy spell. A blanket can keep a horse clean before a show and it can help to dry him off if he's sweaty after a work out. Horses that are clipped have to wear blankets to keep them warm out in the field and in the stable.
If you go to a tack shop or flip through a catalog, you'll see hundreds of different blankets. Which one does your pony need? Does he even need one at all? Let's check out some popular blankets. Then you can decide if one is suitable for your pony.
When a horse is outside, he can move around to keep warm. If he's stuck inside, he can't move around much and he may get cold. You can help keep your pony warm by putting a stable blanket on him. If he's clipped out for the winter, he'll definitely need to wear one when he's in the barn.
A stable blanket has a nylon shell with padded insulation underneath. Most stable blankets have a hook fastening in the front, on the horse's chest, two straps that cross under the pony's belly.
This is a lightweight sheet that is made of nylon, polyester or cotton. A horse wears it in the stable so he stays clean. It's very annoying to wash your horse until he sparkles the day before a show, and then bring him out in the morning and discover that he's rolled in poop! This sheet is also used at shows, and when a horse is traveling in a trailer in cool weather.
Cost: around $50
All horses should spend some time outside every day. But if the weather is cold and the field is muddy, a clipped horse or one with a thin coat should wear a turnout rug so he doesn't get chilly or wet.
A turnout blanket is made of tough nylon on the outside and has a woolen or acrylic layer on the inside to keep the horse warm. Sometimes people will buy a matching hood that attaches to the turnout blanket that keeps the horse's neck and head clean too.
New Zealand Rug
New Zealand rugs are very popular in places like New Zealand where the horses spend a lot of time outdoors, no matter how bad the weather is. They are made of heavyweight waterproofed canvas. A New Zealand rug has a fastening in the front, at the chest, and two leg straps that help to keep it balanced on the horse.
New Zealand rugs can get very heavy when they get wet or covered in mud, and they take a long time to dry, too. This is why it is important to have two New Zealand rugs, so you can put the clean one on your horse and hang up the other one to dry.
Cost: around $150
A cooler covers a horse's neck, back and hindquarters. It is extra-long and reaches down to his knees. It has a fastening at the chest and a brow band that goes in front of a horse's ears to keep it in place. It is made of acrylic or wool. You put a cooler on a horse that is sweaty and hot, and it helps to cool him off. It absorbs dampness and prevents chills. You'll often see coolers at shows or at the barn on a horse that has just had a tough workout.
Cost: around $50
An anti-sweat sheet is made of cotton web mesh. You put it on a sweaty horse, then over it with a stable rug or sheet. The stable sheet prevents the horse from getting a chill in cold air, and the anti-sweat sheet and its holes allow air to circulate near the horse's skin. An anti-sweat sheet has one fastening at the chest.
Cost: around $25
A fly sheet is a lightweight blanket made of nylon mesh. It keeps flies from landing on your horse and irritating or biting him. A lot of fly sheets are specially treated to block UV rays that bleach a horse's coat.